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  • CBS Sacramento video frame / Via News Distribution Network

    The first of many huge spillway gates bound for Folsom Dam is now in Yolo County.

  • Hector Amezcua /

    Contract workers were busy on the Folsom Dam Auxiliary Spillway on Thursday, March, 7, 2013.

Big Folsom Dam spillway gate resting in Dunnigan before final trek

Published: Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 - 2:02 pm

The first of many huge spillway gates bound for Folsom Dam is now in Yolo County, waiting until the nighttime hours when it will be trucked down Interstate 5 and then onto surface streets like Madison Avenue before it reaches its final destination.

The steel flood-control gates, part of a new flood-control spillway being built at Folsom Dam, are hard to miss. On Thursday morning, during its trip south, the wide load with the first gate took up both lanes of Interstate 5.

The extra long flatbed truck that carried the flat gate pulled over at a rest stop near Dunnigan at daybreak. The truck is near the end of a 600-mile trip from Vancouver, Wash., to Folsom.

The billion-dollar project at Folsom Dam is intended to double the dam’s flood-protection rating to shield the Sacramento region from the biggest storms on the American River.

The gate is expected to arrive at Folsom Dam between 2:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Friday. From the Dunnigan area tonight the big load will continue down I-5 to Highway 80 and then down Madison Avenue toward the dam.

There are actually two gates for each of the six openings in the new spillway. The primary gate, called a tainter gate, rotates in an arc to control water releases into the new spillway. These gates are exposed to water pressure from the reservoir at all times. The secondary structure, called a bulkhead gate, is installed just upstream of the tainter gates. It is a flat panel that is lowered into a slot only when it is necessary to access the tainter gates for maintenance.

Each bulkhead gate is about as wide as two highway lanes and will be shipped in one piece, one at a time. The tainter gates are bigger - about three lanes wide. These will be shipped in two pieces: one trip for each gate's girder framework, and another for each gate's curved steel face. That makes a total of 18 truck trips.

Chris Gray, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the gate in Dunnigan “is a bulkhead gate, the type that are on the lake side of the dam. They will be used to lower into place in case we need to do maintenance on the operating gates.”

The tainter gates “are a bit trickier in terms of transporting because they will sit up a little higher on the truck,” said Gray.

The transport of the massive bulkhead gate began Monday night in Vancouver. The gate has been going south since then in the nighttime hours in order minimize traffic problems.

“It makes the progress that it can during the nighttime hours, more or less at highway speeds, under police escort,” said Gray. “It does block both lanes of the highway so that as it moves you are not going to get around it.”

Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof

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